I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Q&A with Me Courtesy of Celadon Books

Today I will be spending most of the day at ALA HQ in downtown Chicago getting into mischief, I mean working on a project, with my Booklist editor, Susan Maguire. You will get to be privy to the result of said mischief/work in a few weeks, but for now, that's al you get. [cue evil laughter...which in and of itself a clue].

I will also be popping in to say hi to a few other people that I work with/know because, well I'm there  so I might as well.

While I am busy, I thought today was a good day to run an interview I recently did with Celadon Books. This is an excellent intro to the basics of RA, but also a behind the scenes into how I train library workers. Come for my soundbite reviews of some great titles, my tips and tricks on being a better book suggester, and some of my favorite book stores, but stay to find out what book most influenced me as a child. Trust me, it explains a lot.

Click here to access the original interview

Readers’ advisory expert Becky Spratford sounds off on independent bookstores, a parallel-universe Nobel laureate, and how librarians learn to connect you with the books you love. 
By Stephen Lovely 
You specialize in training library workers to help readers find their next great read. What’s that process like? How do you connect with libraries, and what form does the training take? 
The field is known as readers’ advisory, which is a terrible and wonky term for what you said in better natural language: helping library workers help leisure readers find the best book for them. 
My company is called “RA for All” because I believe that every staff member who works in a library — whether they are a degree-holding librarian, a clerk, the director, a page, or a maintenance staff member — can and should participate in RA in some way.
We used to teach RA by telling library staff they had to forget what they like to read. We told them that it had to be only about the patron and what they wanted. And we said only the professionally trained staff could handle this. None of this is true. 
My trainings are very different. I use my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service to introduce the concept of RA service and to allow staff members to reconnect with a book they love as a reader, not a library worker. I have everyone think of a book that they love and go through its “appeal factors” — like pacing, story, and setting. Then I ask them to give a two-minute book talk to a neighbor about why they like the book — not what happens in it. 
And that’s just the start of my training sessions, which range from 60-minute webinars to 7-hour interactive classes. 
What sort of things should librarians be considering in their book recommendations to readers? 
Number one, the backlist is your best friend! Those of us in the book world are obsessed with new titles. We think we can’t suggest that hot book from last year. But we know way more about all of the books than the average patron does. You think everyone has read Gone Girl? Think again! Seriously, your best suggestions are those books that everyone was talking about one to four years ago. More people haven’t read them yet than have. 
Number two, our recommendations should be titles that patrons wouldn’t find on their own. I talk a lot about the need to suggest books that are diverse and inclusive. Reading helps open us up to new perspectives, but people tend to stick with what’s comfortable. Patrons need a nudge to try something new. 
Finally, we should convince people to take more than one title home. They might like one or all of them. I remind people that we don’t take it personally if they don’t like the books, because we didn’t write them! 
What does the world get wrong about librarians? 
How much time do you have? Seriously, like many professions, there are a lot of stereotypes. I think the biggest misconception is that we read all day and hate people.
The type of librarianship I work on — service to patrons at a public desk — is much more of a customer service-oriented job than a book-oriented one. It is all about talking to people and seeing how I can help them. If you don’t like people and just want to read all day, you will not enjoy this line of work. 
What book has made the greatest impact on you? 
The poetry of Shel Silverstein, particularly Where the Sidewalk Ends. I read that book over 100 times as a kid and many more times with my kids as an adult. I would spend entire days memorizing and reciting the poems. I had a cassette with Mr. Silverstein reading some of the poems that I played and rewound and played again. 
I think what captivated me about these poems was the slightly askew worldview, the focus on outsiders, the lyrical language that often veered into the nonsensical, and the hint of darkness under it all. All of those features are still things I love in every book I read now. 
What book do you recommend most, and why? 
This is a great question, because it changes all of the time. What I look for in a book I can suggest often is a universality in the themes, great characters, a solid pace, a unique twist, and a “sound bite” hook.  Here are five titles I have most recently been suggesting everywhere I go, along with my one-sentence sound bite hook. 
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones: Imagine your dad had a secret family, and you had a sister you didn’t know about — but she knew about you! 
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: What if the Underground Railroad was an actual train?
There There by Tommy Orange: A mosaically told story of the modern urban Native American experience, with many voices telling their stories as the characters and reader head toward a high powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. 
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: A 20th-century historical family saga, set mostly in Japan, with a family of Korean immigrants. 
In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson: The most subtle vampire tale you have ever read hidden inside of a thought provoking, modern western a la Cormac McCarthy.
The book I have suggested the most all-time is probably The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It’s a lyrical historical fiction tale based on the fact that there were black slave owners. 
Every single one of these books has won or was nominated for a major award. I bet that there is no one reading this other than me who has read all six. Feel free to use any and all of these suggestions — in a few weeks I will probably have swapped a few out already. 
What’s the last great book you read? 
I read at least a book a week, if not more. The last book I loved that I read for my own enjoyment was Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn. [Read Becky’s review here.] 
I also listen to a lot of audio books. A recent one I absolutely loved was The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. 
What’s your favorite literary genre? 
Well, I am the library world’s horror expert. I have literally written the book on it twice, and I am about to start the third edition. I also really enjoy psychological suspense (which is really horror without the supernatural) and literary fiction. I also love novels of place, where the setting is key, no matter the genre. 
In fact, this is part of my training programs: I have people think deeper than genre. Most readers are like me in that they don’t only read one genre. So it’s better to think about what the books you enjoy the most have in common beyond genre categories. 
What’s your favorite bookstore? 
My local bookstore is a branch of Illinois independent bookstore chain Anderson’s Bookshops, but I am also one of those people that frequents the local independent bookstore in just about every town they visit. 
Recently, my family stopped at Page & Palette in Fairhope, Alabama. My parents live in Waterbury, Vermont, and I love Bridgeside Books there — and, in nearby Montpelier, Bear Pond Books. When I was in Paris, I made it to Shakespeare and Company, and I once drove through Oxford, Mississippi just to go to Square Books. 
Wherever I go, I find the independent bookstore. I chat up the employees. I talk to them about the books I have reviewed for Booklist and try to get them to hand sell my favorites to others. I never stop pushing good books. 
What’s the most unique or memorable book request you’ve gotten? 
This one is easy, because I use it in just about every training I provide. Once, I was asked by a patron to get her the book for which James Patterson won the Nobel Prize. Now, I could have laughed in her face and told her that James Patterson was never going to win the Nobel Prize, or lectured her on the fact that the Nobel Prize is given for a body of work, not a single title. Instead I blinked hard a few times, took a breath, and dove into her request. 
I told her I was pretty sure he didn’t win that award. I then had to figure out if she wanted a Nobel Prize-winning book or a book for which Patterson won a prize. Turns out it was the latter. 
And, wouldn’t you know, James Patterson did win a major prize for a book: the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1977 for The Thomas Berryman Number. That story always shocks the audience, but it also serves as a reminder that Readers’ Advisory is a nonjudgmental service. We don’t make our patrons feel bad about what they want to read. We help them find a title that they will enjoy. 
What big book trends have you seen in the libraries you’ve visited in the past six months? 
For a while, I had to convince people that books were our brand, and we should double down on them. Everyone wanted to talk about makerspaces and the like. 
I used to have to sell the need for RA training to the bosses. Administrators weren’t convinced that they needed to spend an entire day on RA. Now, they’re finding me and begging me to come. 
Libraries are also getting more serious about making interactive and interesting book displays and putting up staff book recommendation shelves. This is a huge shift from two years ago when barely any did.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Resource Alert: The Millions' Second Half of 2019 Book Preview

Click here to accessthe full annotated list
Just as I brought you the Second Half of 2019 Horror Preview last week, The Millions is here with their much larger and broader in scope The Great Second-Half 2019 Preview

Now, many of you are thinking right now-- Becky what have you just done to my personal TBR pile? All of these titles are going to make my head explode. I will never get to them all.

But that is not why I am passing the list on. Promise. [And just in case you don't believe me, here is a post I did in 2017 About how to manage your TBR anxiety.]

The Millions puts out these 6 month, usefully annotated with appeal and readalike information, lists twice a year and they are a treasure trove of information for us-- both the current list and the previous lists too.

First the current list [which you can access here]. Of course this is a wonderful resource for those of you who do collection development. Make sure you have these titles ordered, yes, but also find ways to make this list available to your patrons so they know now, in the summer when we are busiest and when many adults are rediscovering their love of reading, what books to be excited about in the coming months.

Put links to this list on your social media, websites, catalogs [if you can], and also in your buildings as a print out. When you are making these lists available to patrons make sure you are clear that these are books you can get for people. Use the excitement of greatly anticipated titles to spur interest and holds in these books and others while they wait.

Look, we think it is obvious that if we link to a list of upcoming books that our patrons understand that means we will have them. Well it is not. Trust me. I still encounter people that don't know they can place a hold on a title before it is released. We are used to our processes because we live and breathe them every day. Our patrons are not us. Please be explicit when posting lists of upcoming books, especially such well produced ones like this list. The annotation are extremely useful here. Make it clear that we want to help get the titles that interest each patron into their hands.

Second, speaking of the annotations, both in the current list and the previous lists, these annotations are ready made book talks. Seriously, you don't have to do anything more than read the annotation to a patron to hand sell the title. Again, you do not have to have read these books to suggest them. [See I promised you I am not trying to sabotage your teetering TBR.]

Take the first book in the list, a title I know every library will purchase, as an example:
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Fresh off a Pulitzer for The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns to the subject of America’s racist history with this tale of a college-bound black man who runs afoul of the law in Jim Crow Florida and ends up in the hellish Nickel Academy, where boys are beaten and sexually abused by the staff. In an early review, Publishers Weekly calls The Nickel Boys “a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight.” (Michael)

Every single one of you, whether you will read this book or not, will have someone ask you about it and/or you will have the opportunity to talk it up to a potential reader at some point, I mean the author was on the cover of Time for goodness sake. You have everything you need to help that patron, right here on the screen. Now multiple that a lot of times [I didn't count every title, sorry] for this list and then multiply it again for every backlist [because they do this 2x a year, every year], and you have a never ending book suggestion engine with your talking points all set out for you.

And third [not that you need a third], a point to which I have already alluded to, the backlist of all of their "Book Preview" pieces are where you should be going to book talk those titles you already have on the shelf right now. If they were hotly anticipated a year ago, there is a good chance that they are a great read right now, and one your patron doesn't have to wait for.

And hey, spoiler, I looked and yep, I was right. That list from the beginning of 2018 has some amazing titles you can confidently hand out right now. And remember, you don't have to have read them yourself because of that awesome annotations that you can use as your book talk.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Visits Massachusetts Library System for Genre Training

This morning I am returning to Massachusetts Library System for my Demystifying Genre webinar. This one was completely overhauled in April and has been tweaked 4 times since then. It is my second most popular webinar and my third most requested program that I present in person or online.

I am very proud of this one and I put a lot of work on keeping it fresh and accurate, but I also want to remind everyone out there that it is an overview of all the genres. The only complaint I get about this program is it doesn't go deep enough, only touching the surface of each genre. However, that is the point.

This program is mean to get your feet wet in the entire concept of genre and how to use it as a tool to help readers. As a result of me doing this one more often, all over the country, I want to then remind you that I can do a full 60 minute webinar on any genre or groups of genres if you need more than this overview.

Unfortunately for all the library workers and their patrons, but I guess fortunately for me and my business, most people still need the overview. And, because the genres are fluid, as I see very clearly in my need to update these slides frequently, people might always need this overview. And that's just fine. I enjoy giving it. I love the enthusiasm for all genres that it stirs up in me; not just the ones I personally enjoy.

So, if you were at the webinar today, the live slides are here and below. And, if you weren't, well guess what? The live slides are still here and below.

Use them to help you get to know a genre you are less comfortable with right now. It's not as hard as you think once you understand the current state of the genre at this moment in time. That's what each slide does-- orient you and point you in the right direction.

Now stop reading this and click through to learn and have fun. Because don't you want your job to actually be about books and reading and not all the other BS you have to deal with? Well it can be at least for a few moments, thanks to me.

Click here for slide access

Monday, July 15, 2019

Library Reads: August 2019

Today is Library Reads day and that means four things here on RA for All:
  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
  4. Every book now has at least 1 readalike that is available to hand out RIGHT NOW. Book talk the upcoming book, place a hold for it, and then hand out that readalike title for while they wait. If they need more titles  before their hold comes in, use the readalike title to identify more readalike titles. And then keep repeating. Seriously, it is that easy to have happy, satisfied readers.
    Also, the Library Reads Board has also started another great book discovery and suggestion tool for you, a monthly What We're Reading column. This means there are even more library worker approved titles, new and old, for you to choose from. 

    So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate. And click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month. 

    August 2019 LibraryReads

    Don’t miss the August 2019 Hall of Fame Winners! Scroll down or visit the Hall of Fame page.

    The Right Swipe: A Novel

    by Alisha Rai

    Published: 8/6/2019 by Avon
    ISBN: 9780062878090
    “An intelligent, multicultural contemporary romance. Rhi, CEO of the Crush dating app, and Samson, NFL star, embark on a joint project that turns into more than just talk. Issues of #MeToo in the tech industry and the NFL’s concussion problem are woven in. For readers of the Forbidden Heart series, Elle Wright, and Alyssa Cole.”
    Jessica Werner, The Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA 
    NoveList Read-alike: Fumbled by Alexa Martin

    Ellie and the Harpmaker

    by Hazel Prior

    Published: 8/6/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9781984803788
    “When Ellie walks into the Harp Barn, her life is bound to change. Dan the harpmaker is a sensitive soul who gives Ellie a harp. Ellie’s husband Clive thinks the gift is inappropriate and doesn’t support her desire to play, so she takes lessons behind his back. An engaging and tender book for fans of Fredrik Backman and Graeme Simsion.”
    Kathleen Harriott, Punta Gorda Public Library, Punta Gorda, FL 
    Novelist Read-alike: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

    Inland: A Novel

    by Téa Obreht

    Published: 8/13/2019 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780812992861
    “Obreht lays a mythical voice over an already dreamlike landscape of drought in Arizona. A mother and half-grown sons generate a powerful dynamic not often explored, and the youngest, who knows about scary beasts, brings magic and intuition. A journey into a barren world, inside and out. For fans of Larry Watson and Alice Hoffman.”
    Katherine Phenix, Rangeview Library District, Adams County, CO 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

    The Last Widow: A Novel

    by Karin Slaughter

    Published: 8/20/2019 by William Morrow
    ISBN: 9780062858085
    “A fast-paced thriller in the Will Trent series has Will and Sara trying to prevent a deadly epidemic. The book tells the story of what is happening to three different people during the same short time periods, as they are unaware of the actions of the others. For readers who enjoy Tana French and John Sanford.”
    Susanne Guide, Union County Public Library, Liberty, IN
    NoveList Read-alike: The Helen Grace series by M.J. Arlidge

    Life and Other Inconveniences

    by Kristan Higgins

    Published: 8/6/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780451489425
    “Explores the complex relationships between caregivers and their children, as four generations of one family reflect on their past, and the failing health of the family matriarch looms large. For readers who like fully developed characters with real-world problems, and fans of Jennifer Weiner and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.”
    Amanda Kowalcze, Green Hills Public Library District, Palos Hills, IL
    NoveList Read-alike: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

    Sapphire Flames: A Hidden Legacy Novel

    by Ilona Andrews

    Published: 8/27/2019 by Avon
    ISBN: 9780062878342
    “The fifth Hidden Legacy paranormal adventure requires middle sister Catalina, now head of House Baylor, to use all her skills and poise to make the right decisions for herself and her family. For fans of Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series and Patricia Briggs’ Moon Called.”
    Lynne Welch, Herrick Memorial Library, Wellington, OH 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Lily Bound series by Yasmine Galenorn

    The Swallows: A Novel

    by Lisa Lutz

    Published: 8/13/2019 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9781984818232
    “A dark, satirical book that centers around a school and the revenge that we seek in times of humiliation. It’s a twisty read that will have you following an investigation filled with secrets, lies, and threats. For readers who liked Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and Small Admissionsby Amy Poeppel.”
    Kathryn Neal, Skiatook Library, Skiatook, OK 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

    Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel

    by Katherine Center

    Published: 8/13/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250047328
    “A traumatic event as a young woman has left firefighter Cassie with a hard shell which breaks apart as she learns about forgiveness, love, and friendship. With gripping firefighting scenes and a love story, this is perfect for fans of Jo Jo Moyes or Marissa de los Santos.
    Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL
    NoveList Read-alike: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

    The Warehouse: A Novel

    by Rob Hart

    Published: 8/20/2019 by Crown
    ISBN: 9781984823793
    “Paxton and Zinnia are new employees at Cloud where they work, live, and have their productivity and location tracked through their smartwatches. Gibson is the dying industrialist who created the Cloud company and is touring the country visiting his facilities. This near-future dystopian sci-fi thriller made me leery of ever shopping online again. For fans of The Circle by Dave Eggers and Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone.”
    Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Library, Raleigh, NC
    NoveList Read-alike: 1984 by George Orwell

    The Whisper Man: A Novel

    by Alex North

    Published: 8/20/2019 by Celadon Books
    ISBN: 9781250317995
    “Tom and his son Jake move to Featherbank to rebuild their life after the death of Tom’s wife; unknown to them, the town has a dark history and another little boy has gone missing and Jake begins to hear whispers in his new house. For fans of Joe Hill and Paul Tremblay.”
    Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

    The Perfect Wife: A Novel

    by JP Delaney

    Published: 8/6/2019 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9781524796747
    “Abbie wakes up with no memory of how she ended up in the hospital. Her tech wizard husband tells her that after a horrific accident, he spent five years trying to bring her back. But is Abby’s return a miracle of science, or a nightmare? Delaney’s latest psychological thriller keeps you guessing.”

    Joan Meis Wilson, Needles Public Library, Needles, CA
    Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
    How to Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman
    The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

    The Turn of the Key

    by Ruth Ware

    Published: 8/6/2019 by Gallery/Scout Press
    ISBN: 9781501188770
    “Rowan travels to northern Scotland to nanny for a rich, eccentric family; a seemingly perfect job until everything unravels. The isolated location, creepy gothic vibe, unreliable narrator, and brilliant twists keep readers on edge from start to finish in a pulse-pounding read.”
    Cyndi Larsen, Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT 
    Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
    While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
    The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman

    Friday, July 12, 2019

    Booklist's First Annual Graphic Novels in Libraries Month

    For years I have been saying that the time to get yourself up to speed on the world surrounding the popular format of Graphic Novels is July.

    Yes, I said format. Please let's remember that graphic novels are not a genre. Graphic novels are a format, a way to tell a story, any story, in many genres. 

    Take myself for instance. If you asked me if I liked graphic novels, I would emphatically proclaim, "YES!" But, does that mean I like every type of graphic novel. No, I enjoy graphic novels in the same  genres that I like my books [horror, sf, nonfiction, literary fiction, for example], and conversely I also do NOT like graphic novels in the genres I do not enjoy-- specifically comics of superheroes. I do not like the genre of superheroes at all. I don't enjoy them in movies or TV either.

    The world of graphic novels is vast and figuring it all out can be a daunting task. We have to consider the type of stories people enjoy AND how the art interacts with that. Plus, graphic novels cover everything. This means there is a lot to sift through, but it also means that there is a choice available for every reader.

    July is the best time to get up to speed on the entire landscape of graphic novels because it is the month of Comic-Con International and the most prestigious and comprehensive awards in the format, the Eisner Awards

    Click here to see every nominee in a wide range of categories for all age levels. I think just looking at the sheer number of categories and what they are for helps you to understand the multiple layers of appeal and the scope of storytelling. It gives you a glimpse into the format's contraction by deconstructing the process.

    But even then, that list is overwhelming because it only shows you what the industry considers as the cream of that year's crop. How do you help yourself to be better at helping readers? Well, as the title of this post says, Booklist, one of the best places to fine useful and hands-on RA and collection development resources, resources you can use in the your work with readers immediately, has gone all in on July as Graphic Novels in Libraries month.

    There are the regular spotlight issue lists like:

    But the staff took it one step further this month by creating a full supplemental Guide to Graphic Novels in Libraries, which you can access here. Below is a list of the feature article with links but go to the landing page for the introduction by Booklist's Sarah Hunter too.


    There is even more if you login or go to Booklist Reader all month long. Now get out there and get up to speed in graphic novels, refresh your collections, and work with readers with confidence.

    Thursday, July 11, 2019

    2019 Readers' Advisory Service Award Winner Announcement and Come See Them Present for ARRT

    One of my favorite things about being on the Steering Committee of the Adult Reading Round Table is that we created and sponsor an award for RA Service here in Illinois through the Illinois Library Association. This week all of the annual winners were announced here.

    Below I am proud to feature this year's winner, the Popular Materials Department at Ela Area Public Library District. 

    Click here for details 
    and to register
    You can get all of the links and read the press release below; however, before you do that, I also want to invite you to Ela Area Public Library District on 8/27/19 for the second ARRT Program of the year-- Earworms for Bookworms. Details here.

    One of the listed reasons Ela won this award [below] is because of their podcast, Three Books. But that is not the only reason. What is so inspiring about this team [and they truly are a team because I have been there and seen it myself] is that they knew their RA Service was being overshadowed when their department started also doing passports, and yet, people wanted RA Service too. Instead of throwing up their hands, they went out and did something about it....without sacrificing service to any patrons or overtaxing staff in the process.

    Details and links are all below.

    Press Release » [and below]

    Illinois Library Association 33 W. Grand Ave., Suite 401 Chicago, IL 60654-6799

    Press Release

    Phone: 312.644.1896 Fax: 312.644.1899
    Email: ila@ila.org

    The Popular Materials Department at the Ela Area Public Library is the recipient of the Illinois Library Association Readers’ Advisory Service Award. The award,presented by the Adult Reading Round Table, recognizes excellence in the planning,development and delivery of readers’ advisory service to adults and teens. The award is sponsored by the Adult Reading Round Table.

    Ela’s Popular Materials Department was selected as this year’s winner in recognition of their innovative efforts to promote Readers’ Advisory in ways that are inclusive and impactful. With initiatives such as the Three Books Podcast, Ask Me What I’m Reading, Ela Book Buzz, Teen Margin Project, and Great Read Out, the Popular MaterialsDepartment has made readers’ advisory a central focus and more than doubled theirreach over the past two years.

    These efforts are even more remarkable when you consider the challenge the Popular Materials department faced in the recent past. Due to a large volume of passports being processed at the Popular Materials Desk, staff were spending up to 50% of their time on passports. This was preventing other users from accessing the desk, and it was difficultfor staff to focus on or promote readers’ advisory. As the library worked on makingpassport processing more manageable, staff began brainstorm ideas to ensure thatpatrons’ readers’ advisory needs were met.

    Highlights of the resulting readers’ advisory initiatives include:

    Three Books Podcast
    This monthly podcast is hosted by staff members Christen Wiser and Becca Boland and features staff recommendations as well as guests including genre experts, authors, andlocal readers. One review of the podcast on iTunes states, “Three Books has become one of my most-anticipated podcasts. I love hearing the conversations about books almostas much as I love reading!”

    Ela Book Buzz
    This event featured book promotions and giveaways led by staff from across the library. Alexis Neumann, an attendee of event, states, “Book Buzz was an incredible one nightprogram in which various staff members of the library spoke on their favorite booksthey read within the past year. Hearing each person’s review and what they lovedabout the books made me incredibly eager to read each and every one.”

    “Ask Me What I’m Reading”
    Initiatives such as Book Clip Signage, Reading Stands, and Pins/Buttons highlight that staff are available and eager to provide reading suggestions, with a goal of encouragingmore casual readers’ advisory interactions.

    Teen Margin Project
    This program encouraged teens to write their thoughts, feelings, and reflections in the margins of the book before returning it to the library. Other readers could then reflect and add their thoughts, which created a discussion between readers.

    Great Read Out
    Library patrons were welcomed to the library after hours on the first day of summer to enjoy some ice cream and read together as a community.
    Executive Director Matt Womack applauds the work of the Popular Materials staff as both inspiring to staff and a big hit with patrons. Assistant Director Erica Christiansonadds, “From engaging patrons through direct and indirect methods, to empoweringand involving staff in RA activities, the Popular Materials Department has usedinnovative methods to make our Library a more welcoming place for all readers.”
    The Readers’ Advisory Service Award will be presented at the Awards Luncheon to beheld on Tuesday, October 22, during the 2019 Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Tinley Park.
    For further information, contact the Illinois Library Association.

    Wednesday, July 10, 2019

    Grady Hendrix and I Talk The Appeal of Horror on Circulating Ideas

    Today I am in the woods in Michigan, dropping my son at jazz band camp with no Internet, but never fear, I have not abandoned you dear reader.

    I am here with you on tape delay, live from ALA Annual appearing on Circulating Ideas episode 161 along with Grady Hendrix. We talk the appeal of horror, Summer Scares and Grady talks about working with libraries as an author including explaining his amazing programs which he will bring to a library near you!

    All of this information is useful to all of you, so why not find some time to listen, today.

    Link to the episode page with show notes is here and below.

    161: Grady Hendrix and Becky Spratford

    Steve chats with bestselling horror author Grady Hendrix and Readers’ Advisory Specialist Becky Spratford about how Grady grew up with libraries, the legitimacy of genre fiction, lessons learned from Stephen King, and the Summer Scares program.